It was a gray morning, the sun not yet able to break through the clouds above the Hollow or the dark thoughts clouding my brain. Worries and what-ifs mingled with sorrow for the people of Boston and scenes of the explosion in West were fresh in my mind.
My feet tread a familiar path through the woods, but I hardly paid attention. My camera dangled, forgotten, around my neck because I was too distracted by darkness to look for light.
Then, as I stepped into an area surrounded by tall trees, I heard it, the wind moving through their branches, singing a lullaby. A song straight from God to my heart.
That night, after a day of to-do's and running later than I'd hoped, I'd already forgotten that feeling of peace when I arrived at my meeting. Soft music and candlelight greeted me, thanks to the committee member in charge of our opening reflection.
"Be still and know that I am God," she read to us (Psalm 46:10) and once again I heard the trees' lullaby and God's voice: "Be still. Don't worry. I've got it."
For the next fifteen minutes or so, she guided us through a centering prayer, where we focused on interior silence, using a single sacred word to pull me back when those distracting thoughts try to pop back in and get me all rattled.
"Be still." The words have continued to echo in my heart, so simple, so full of love and comfort and security.
It's on the darkest night that you see the most stars, isn't it? When the moon and sun are both resting, the darkness provides a black backdrop to stars you would never even notice with a full moon on the stage, or when the sun rules the sky.
I think that's the way it is with sweet!s. When times get tough, that's when the sweet moments of our lives shine against the darkness. Once again we pay attention and give thanks for the simple things we all too often take for granted.
This past week, the shadows cast by terrorism and tragedy made me look closer for those bright spots I knew were there.
Monday: a day off to play catch-up; a morning walk with happy dogs; turtles; cardinals at the birdfeeder; prairie verbena spreading everywhere; witnessing (via television) ordinary people becoming heroes
Tuesday: time for a long morning walk; a just-right day at work...not too busy, not too slow; spotting a Painted Bunting on your bird feeder
Wednesday: the sound of trees singing to each other; puppy kisses when you're feeling blue; praying with others for a small community hit with tragedy
Thursday: spending time with your baby girl, even if it's at the DMV and doctor's office; Five Guys cheeseburgers; arriving right on time everywhere on a tightly-packed day
Friday: trainees who catch on fast on a busy day at work; UPS and FedEX deliveries; your photos turned into beautiful greeting cards and prints; spotting a hawk out your kitchen window
Saturday: time for a long walk with your puppies and son before work; weddings, even on the sidelines; a belated birthday phone message from a friend; philosophical discussions with your son late at night
Sunday: sleeping in, late Mass with your son, and breakfast with friends; a walk with your son and puppies; the sun's kiss on your legs and arms; making a clean dent on a dirty house; your son making a delivery for you, saving you a trip into town
Monday: a forecast for absolutely perfect weather on your son's wedding day
A crazy, busy week awaits me, with one of the happiest days of my life ahead - the wedding of my oldest son. Talk about a bright light! But I'm determined to keep my eyes open and appreciate the simple blessings each day provides. I hope you do, too. Please share yours with me!